You may be thinking we make too big a deal out of the July 31 Trade Deadline. I mean, can one player really make that much of a difference? Actually, yes.
One of the striking things about the last nine World Series winners is that all of them made important Trade Deadline acquisitions. In the case of at least the last three champions -- 2018 Red Sox, '17 Astros and '16 Cubs -- it’s difficult to imagine them winning without those acquisitions.
Let’s run down the list:
2018 Red Sox
Key acquisition: RHP Nathan Eovaldi from the Rays (July 28)
What he did: 1.61 ERA in six postseason appearances; 3.33 ERA in 12 regular-season appearances.
Bottom line: Eovaldi made himself a New England baseball legend by saving the Red Sox's bullpen with a six-inning, one-earned run effort on one day of rest in an 18-inning Game 3 loss at Dodger Stadium. Afterwards, some of his teammates teared up as they spoke of his gritty effort. When the Red Sox won the World Series two days later, Eovaldi was mentioned again and again as one of the keys to the championship.
Key acquistion: RHP Justin Verlander from the Tigers (Aug. 31)
What he did: Pitched to a 1.66 ERA in 11 regular-season and postseason appearances, including seven shutout innings against the Yankees to force Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
Bottom line: The Astros had lost 17 of 28 games in August when Verlander arrived moments before Sept. 1 and gave the club a resounding jolt of energy. As Astros catcher Brian McCann would say later, “He changed a lot of things -- performance, expectations, energy.” The Astros had a really good team, but Verlander pushed them to greatness.
Key acquisition: LHP Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees (July 25)
What he did: Converted 16 of 18 regular-season save chances and had a 1.01 ERA in 28 appearances. Nailed down clinching games against the Giants and Dodgers in the first two rounds of the postseason. Went 2 2/3 innings to finish Game 5 of the World Series to help keep the Cubs alive.
Bottom line: Chapman gave the Cubs a dominant bullpen arm to help them complete a dream season. Manager Joe Maddon rode him hard, using him for a total of 5 1/3 innings in the final three games of the World Series. Chapman ran out of gas in Game 7, but played a huge role in breaking a 108-year championship drought.
What they did: Cueto had huge postseason performances in AL Division Series Game 5 (eight innings, two earned runs) and World Series Game 2 (nine innings, one earned run). Zobrist had 10 extra-base hits and an .880 OPS in 16 postseason games.
Bottom line: General manager Dayton Moore got exactly what he was hoping for in adding two veterans to a solid team. Both helped down the stretch and then put together a string of big postseason moments.
Key acquisition: RHP Jake Peavy from the Red Sox (July 26)
What he did: 2.17 ERA in 12 regular-season starts; 6.19 ERA in four postseason starts.
Bottom line: The Giants won eight of his 12 regular-season starts, and Peavy went at least seven innings seven times to clinch an National League Wild Card Game berth. Peavy’s ability to get deep into games allowed Giants manager Bruce Bochy to enter the postseason with his pitching staff in good shape.
2013 Red Sox
Key acquisition: Peavy from the White Sox (July 30)
What he did: 4.04 ERA in 10 regular-season starts; 7.11 ERA in three postseason starts.
Bottom line: Peavy added much needed pitching depth and turned in six quality starts to help the Red Sox break open a close division race in the season's final two months.
Key acquisition: OF Hunter Pence from the Phillies (July 31)
What he did: .210 batting average in 16 postseason games; .219 batting average in 59 regular-season games.
Bottom line: Manager Bruce Bochy has credited Pence’s energy and gung-ho style with giving the Giants a bolt of energy. Bochy had lobbied his front office to acquire him since managing Pence in the 2010 All-Star Game.
What they did: Rzepczynski was dominant in October, allowing one run across nine appearances between the NLCS and World Series; Dotel had a 3.28 ERA in 29 regular-season appearances and a 2.61 ERA in 12 postseason games; Jackson put up a 3.58 ERA in 12 regular-season games.
Bottom line: President of baseball operations John Mozeliak’s acquisition of three quality arms, including two in the bullpen, gave the Cardinals a different look and a 'pen that could match up with almost any in the postseason. Manager Tony La Russa maneuvered it masterfully in October.
Key acquisition: Javier López (July 31)
What he did: 1.38 ERA in 25 postseason appearances covering four seasons for the Giants. In the three championship seasons, Lopez was a key contributor with a 0.73 ERA in 23 postseason games.
Bottom line: Great bullpens were a constant on the Giants' three title teams, and Bochy mixed and matched them masterfully. Lopez was one of the players who was part of all three championship clubs.